Monday, July 31, 2006

Poop revelation

Tonight during his bath, Lucas said he had to go poop. Up until tonight, he's been reluctant to sit on the toilet for poop, asking for a diaper instead which we give him, based on advice from our pediatrician.

So I asked if he wanted to sit on the toilet and he said yes.

As he sat there, for more than a 1/2 hour, I told him poop-centric stories and we talked about the poop process. I told him, "You just have to push it out and it will all be just fine."

I'm not sure where Lucas heard the analogy, but he thought about the pushing and said, "It's kind of like pushing out a baby."

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Kite fest - we finally made it!

Every year since we've been in Berkeley, even pre-Lucas, we've been wanting to go to the July Kite Festival down at the Berkeley Marina.

And today we finally made it. It was everything we all expected and so much more. We saw kite teams, yes, teams of people who worked together to get either one huge kite off the ground, or a group of kites to move together to music, kind of like synchronized swimming but with kites.
Lucas made his first foray into the world of end-of-the-day porta potties. As he recounted his experience in substandard sanitation to Kevin, "Who left their pooh there? It's gross."

Given the huge crowd at the Marina, we had to park far away. The boats along the marina provided a good distraction and the walk didn't seem so long on the way to see the kites. On the way back, there was a mini melt-down, so I walked ahead, got the car and came back to retrieve Kevin and Lucas. But overall, the outing was a big hit.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

The nude dude strikes again!

Lucas spent most of this afternoon as "the nude dude", the diaper-free crime-fighting avenger. We don't give it a second thought, but we've had a couple of visitors at times when the nude dude is out in full force. He always gets a double-take.

Here is the nude dude and his partner. Lucas is rolling out his plan to fight crime, "You corner the bad guy over there, and I'll come over and call him poopyhead!"
Here is the nude dude taking a nutrition break. He has been eating lots of salad lately, though he insists, "It's not salad, it's just salad dressing."

Inflatable playroom

We went to a great party at Pump It Up in Union City. Basically, the rooms have these huge inflatable jumpy-houses, slides, etc. They allowed parents to run, jump, and slide too. It was fun.
Here's Lucas coming down the huge slide.

Here he is climbing through the obstacle course.
I wish I had one of these at our house.

Lucas on death

Lucas: You know mommy, my plant outside died.
Me: Yes, we forgot to water it.
Lucas: If you don't give plants enough water they will die.
Me: Yes, they will.
Lucas: And trees and flowers and bushes.
Lucas: And sometimes ants will die too. And spiders and bugs and roly-polys and lizards and ladybugs and mosquito hawks and butterflies and...
Me: All living things will die at some point.
Lucas: Yeah, sometimes, things die.
Me: Actually, all living things will die.
Lucas: Like animals, and cats and elephants and camels and alligators...
Me: How about Maggie, will she die?
Lucas: No, she's our family.

I didn't know where to take the conversation here, so I did what a lot of parents probably do, I changed the subject.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Action-packed weekend with the mad scientist

We are still getting good mileage out of the birthday balloons from last weekend. Some have lost some of their loft, but they make for an excellent game of "Keep-it-up".

Lucas keeps pretty busy with his two Bug Vacuums that he got for his birthday. He has 6 bug jugs now. And he loves to collect bugs. Today I asked him, "What happened to that spider that was in that big bug jug?" He said, "I don't know, maybe he escaped." Lucky me!

This morning, I took Lucas to see one of Rocky's soccer games on Treasure Island. He was a little disappointed when we got there and Rocky was playing on the field. He said, "Uncle Rocky, let's play soccer." I explained that he was playing with his team and that he would play with him after the game was over. In the mean time, Kimberley and I played with him. It was cooler out on Treasure Island than in Albany, though it was still pretty warm. But everyone had a great time.

Self-esteem and grammar kudos

Last night Lucas and I were talking after Kevin read stories.

Lucas: I like my mommy and daddy. And I like my dog Maggie too.
Me: That's nice. We like you and we love you too.
Lucas: I love you guys too.
Me: Do you like yourself?
Lucas: Yeah, I like myself. Do you and daddy like yourselves?
Me: Yes, we do.
Lucas: We ALL like ourselves. And my friend and buddies like themselves too.

First of all, I love it when he says nice things like that and that he can say "I like myself".
Secondly, I can't help but be proud that he correctly uses reflexive pronouns.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Lucas' reality

Lucas' reality is still full of dragons, monsters, and other things that only live in children's imaginations and storybooks.

About once a week, Lucas sneaks into our bed without us even waking up. One morning, he woke up in our bed.

Me: Lucas, how did you get here? Did you come up to our room in your spaceship?
(There was a long pause, as he thought about this, contemplating whether or not a space ship brought him to our room.)
Lucas: No, I think I just walked.

Lucas opened one of his birthday presents. It was a bendable cartoon-like dragon and a dragon book. You could see the dragon behind the plastic packaging.

Me: Look, it's a dragon
(Lucas took a step back)
Lucas: Is it real?

Friday, July 21, 2006

Selective listening

Lucas barely listens to me (at least it seems that way), yet he takes what other people say as law.

The other day, he struck up this conversation with me out of the blue.

Lucas: Lucas Mendoza's daddy is a dentist. He said you shouldn't eat candy because it will rot your teeth and they will all fall out.
Me: Yep, that's right. Candy will rot your teeth.
Lucas: When I go to grammy's house, she gives me M&Ms and candy.
Me: She does (acting shocked)?
Lucas: Yes, I have to tell her not to do that anymore!
Me: You better tell her that.

Then yesterday, there was a graduation at Lucas' school, followed by a family potluck. The teachers gave goody bags to all the kids, and there were Smarties in there. Lucas put one in his mouth.

Lucas: Uh oh, I'm eating candy. Lucas Mendoza's dad is over there and he said if I eat candy my teeth will rot.
Me: Well, it's already in your mouth. What should you do?
Lucas: Maybe I'll go ask him.
Me: Good idea.

Of course, when we got to Dr. Mendoza, Lucas said, "You ask him."

Me: Lucas has candy in his mouth and he's worried that his teeth will fall out.
Louie (aka Lucas Mendoza's dad): Hmmm, I guess if it's already in your mouth, just make sure you brush your teeth really well tonight.
Lucas: Okay.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Monday, July 17, 2006

Scorpion up close

Here's a short clip of Desert Dave showing the scorpion to the kids. That was the "most feared" of the group of reptiles.

After all was said and done, after Desert Dave showed off his huge tortoise, the 12-foot python, and all the other exotic reptiles in between, Lucas said his favorite was the cockroach.

Lucas' birthday, again (or "Kevin finds a 2nd career")

For Lucas' birthday party, we opted for a small group of kids (10) at Terrace Park. I consulted with Lucas on the menu: pizza and cupcakes. And we arranged for Desert Dave ( to entertain the kids.

A bit of background: When I spoke with Desert Dave, he asked if we wanted to upgrade to the jumbo package - a big snake, big iguana, and big tortoise. I politely declined, since I figured the little snakes and lizards would be enough for the preschool crowd. I emailed Kevin the web site and Kevin said, "Why aren't we getting the jumbo package?" We discussed and Kevin called Desert Dave (nee Scott) to get the specifics on his reptile posse. He decided it was worth the money to get "supersized".

Desert Dave and his reptilian friends were a huge hit. See for yourself.

- Miles was the most enthusiastic kid in the group. That's him with the two snakes around his neck.

- Kevin truly found his second calling. He's trying out his newly-found career by educating the kids on the 12-foot long albino Burmese python. There's also a pic of the python giving Kevin a wedgie.

- As you many know, I've never so much as touched a lizard. Kevin put the python around my neck, then he wouldn't take it off.

All in all, everyone had a great time.

Kicking off Lucas' birthday celebration

Lucas turned 3 this past weekend. And while our general philosophy is to not go overboard with buying things, we like to spread out birthdays and really make them last.
Earlier in the week we started discussing the upcoming weekend's activities. Lucas also had his own ideas.
- I want to have a "picnic at the beach". (We fully intended to do this on Saturday, but he ended up wanting to stay home pretty much all day, until we went to Grandma Kay's for his family birthday dinner.)
- I wish Desert Dave (The reptile guy we hired for his party, more on him later) would bring a scorpion as big as our house.
- For my birthday party I want cupcakes, pizza, chocolate chip cookies, cake and ice cream. (He got all five, albeit, spread out over three days)
We officially kicked off his birthday celebration on Saturday night at Grammy's house. Grandma Trudy made ribs and Grammy made the side dishes and the applesauce cake. And of course, there were the presents (various planes and cars, swords, and a "cool" watch).
Kevin’s parents read a nice heartfelt poem about their love for Lucas. Lucas responded by methodically ripping open his gifts. I guess there will be time for his “softer side” to come out later.
Lucas and Kevin battling it out. Lucas' outfit is complete with his tighty-whities.
"Luke, I am your father."

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

"Working from home"

Today we had a photo shoot at our house for the Kodak Gallery holiday catalog. I didn't know this till I started working there, but most of the photos they have in marketing materials come from employees. I think it's a nice touch actually.

Here are some product shots from around the house.

As usual, Maggie charmed everyone with her wiggly cute little personality. So guess who might make it into the catalog? It took a while to set this one up. I had to get her to sit close enough to the tote bag. Then I held her tennis ball over the photographer's head so she would look up at the camera. What you can't see in this photo is her shaking so much because she wants her ball.

Lucas and I might also achieve immortality in the pages of this holiday catalog. This is probably the only time you'll see me in an apron, happily serving beverages to my family. At least they didn't ask me to wear a photo apron.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Lucas, the big cousin

On Sunday we went to visit Wonny, Joe and Milan. Lucas loves Milan, his baby cousin, as he sometimes calls her.
The other day he said, "Mommy, I saw Milan today. I saw her chubby cheeks and her little button nose." He is very gentle when handling Milan and he will tell me, "I'm so gentle with her. And I'm a really good big cousin to her."

Lucas remembers the empanada

After Lucas' bath, I always ask him how he wants me to wrap him up in his towel: emapanda, burrito, or enchilada. (Lucas has had his share of Mexican food between almost weekly trips to Picante and visits to Bette's for their empanadas) The actual wrap is always the same, but he loves giving different responses every time.

Last night, he said "empanada". So I wrapped him up and then he gave me his explanation of an empanada.

Lucas: Remember at Owen's party, they had an empanada, remember that?
Me: At Owen's party, did we have empanadas?
Lucas: The empanada hanging from the tree and everyone hit it with a bat and the treats fell out, remember that?

Me: I think that was a pinata.
Lucas: Oh, then what's an empanada?

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Professional and sensitive cyclist

Today we hit Marin School with Lucas and his tricycle. He went from cautious amateur to semi-pro cyclist in one afternoon. Kevin also introduced him to the fine art of coasting.

After dinner I took him back to the schoolyard for more riding. We had a little discussion about Kevin not having a bike.

Lucas: Mommy, how come Daddy doesn't have a bike?

Me: Daddy's back hurts when he rides a bike.

Lucas: We need to get him a bike for when his back feels better.

Me: Yeah, when his back feels better we'll get him a really fancy one.

Lucas: Let's do that. That will make him so happy.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

More cycling photos

Here are more picturs from today at the schoolyard. It was nice to hang out there, especially since it's just across the street from our house. I can't believe he will be going to school there in only two more years.

Friday, July 07, 2006

I LOVE Thai food!

Lucas used to say, "I love..." or "I don't like..." fill in the food, somewhat at random, or mostly just whether he was in a good or not-so-good mood.

But I really think he does have a preference for Thai food. Like today, we were in North Berkeley and I suggested going to the Chicken Place (aka Le Poulet), he said, "No mommy, I want Thai food." Luckily there was a Thai place across the street.

Lucas also knows how it works in a restaurant:
- He even took charge and ordered. "I want some chicken on-a-stick (satay)."
- When the waitress asked if we wanted brown or white rice, Lucas replied, "I want both. I want lots of brown rice AND white rice."
- Lucas doesn't like ice in his water. With his original glass, I asked for "no ice". But when the waitress came by to refill his water glass with the iced pitched, he let her know in no uncertain terms, "I don't want ice in my water. Take it out."

Thai restaurants in general have a lot to keep kids entertained. While waiting for our food, we walked through the restaurant. I pointed out the dragons and other ornamental animals throughout the restaurant.

In addition to our chicken "on-a-stick" we also got chicken and greenbeans. Lucas loved the little side salad of pickled cucumbers. Throughout our dinner he said at least 5 times, "Mommy, I love Thai food." Even with his somewhat surly demands, his enthusiasm for Thai food made the waitress happy. I hope his hearty appetite and the healthy tip compensated for the small mess of rice left on the floor.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

"I am dragon hear me roar!"

Dragons are a big topic around here these days. About a week ago, I told Lucas a super-abridged, 15-minute version of the Hobbit and he's been hooked on dragons ever since. I bought him a storybook with dragons in it and he asks me to read it over and over. The most interesting feature to him is, of course, the dragon's ability to breathe fire.

If I tell Lucas to do something he doesn't want to do, he tells me that he is going to burn me with his fire-breath. Here you can see him warning Maggie of his fire-breathing abilities. She's obviously petrified.
And he does this thing where he puts his fingers up to his head, like dragon horns. Like I said, he's really into dragons.

Waking up in suburbia

It's not like we don't know we live in the suburbs. Albany is this very family-friendly little city, that's why we bought a house here. We have a young son, a house, a dog, and yes, even a Volvo station wagon. But today, I felt like I had truly woken up smack-dab in the middle of suburbia.

Today we headed to Memorial Park with Kevin's parents and Lucas for the 4th of July celebration. From bouncy houses, pony rides, and a reptile show, the park was bursting with young families with kids, just like us.

We missed the pancake breakfast, watermelon eating contest, and "dog jog", but it still felt like we had entered a new dimension in our lives. We saw other families we knew. Families who also probably felt the same way we did, like, "How did we get here?"

It's not like I was just an observer - I was an active participant in our suburban lives. I was out there taking lots of pictures. And I was truly disappointed when the lady at the pony ride said "No more kids, the ponies are taking a break." I even chatted it up with a few parents I knew, talking about schools, etc.

Maybe it's not so much that we are in the suburbs, but I guess I just feel all grown-up.

Hot chocolate roundup (and happy 4th of July)

Those of you who have ever gone with me for a hot chocolate know how I am. Not just any one will do. I always ask for extra chocolate, and will go back and ask again if it's not enough. Sometimes, it's still not enough, and I may drink it or just toss it. Why consume the calories if it's not up to snuff?

I keep coming back to Semifreddis as the best hot chocolate around and I've tried them all: Peets, Starbucks, Ruby's, Royal Grounds, and every other little cafe between here and Emeryville. Of course, there are the special hot chocolate places, like Bittersweet and Sketch, but those are too intense for every day consumption.

I had been trying Peets a couple times a week for the past couple of weeks. The other day I said to Kimberley, "This is the last time to see if they can get it right." And they didn't. So no more wasting money on these other places, it's Semifreddis for me.

What makes Semifreddis' hot chocolate so special?

1) The chocolate - There's a difference between the powder and the syrup. Semifreddis has the chocolate powder. My palette tells me that the syrups I've encountered have more sugar. You can see remnants of the powder on the inside of the cup. I've been to the Semifreddis on the Kensington Circle, Claremont and Hollis and it's always just as good.

2) This day in history - There is a little factoid about what happened on this day in history. It's always something off the wall. On this day, many years ago, Lauren Bacall married Jason Robards, her second husband after Bogey.

3) It's all in the whisk - The people who work there work the cocoa in with these little whisks, which is something I haven't seen at other hot chocolate places.

4) The staff knows me - At the Kensington store, when I walk in, they know that I want my hot chocolate with extra chocolate.

5) Cookies - They recently reintroduced their cookies. Although they're larger than I need, they have mastered the classics: chocolate chip, oatmeal and snickerdoodles (a rare find in bakeries).